When Meade High senior wrestler Luther Scott joined the National Guard last April, he didn't expect Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing war.
The 17-year-old knows that after graduation, he could be called on to join the ground forces in the Middle East, although his chances may have diminished with yesterday's Iraqi announcement that its troops would withdraw from Kuwait.
"I'm in the infantry, and as graduation comes closer, it's increasingly in the back of my mind," said Scott, the Maryland State Wrestling Association's third-ranked 145-pounder and perhaps the area's most improved wrestler.
This weekend, he gets his last shot at a state title in the Class 3A-4A state finals at Western Maryland College on Friday and Saturday. The Class 1A-2A finals are also this weekend at Western Maryland.
Scott began last season on the junior varsity and reached the Class 3A-4A state tournament. He finished with a 26-7 record.
After finishing third in last year's Anne Arundel County tournament at 145, Scott won the Region IV title to qualify for the states.
"He has good drive and a great work ethic. He knows how to attain what he wants," said Meade coach Sam Pandullo of Scott, who maintains a B average. "He knows how to channel his energies into being successful."
Scott (26-3) has been just that, placing second in the Anne Arundel County and Class 3A-4A Region IV tournaments.
Scott's only losses have come by decision to Annapolis' top-ranked Pat Flynn. He has won titles in the Chesapeake, Meade and Arundel Holiday tournaments.
"The biggest difference between last year and this year is experience," said Scott. "Every year, I've just gained more poise by leaps and bounds."
This weekend, Scott will have his last shot at Flynn, a state tournament runner-up last year.
Pandullo says Scott has state title potential.
"A lot of kids have drive but not the kind he has," said Pandullo. "He has what it takes to win the big ones."
Scott began wrestling two years ago as a sophomore with no junior league experience. Until midway through last season when he beat out the varsity 145-pounder, Scott was on the junior-varsity squad.
In the state tournament, Scott lost, 8-4, in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion, Dave Foster of North Carroll -- now the state's top-ranked 152-pounder -- and a 4-3 consolation semifinal decision to Churchill's fourth-place Jim Goepfert.